Jack Laviolette - Les Canadiens / Le Club de Hockey Le Canadien / Montreal Canadiens 1909.
John "Jack" Laviolette - Born July 17, 1879 in Belleville, Ontario – Died January 9, 1960 in Montreal, Quebec, was a Canadian professional Ice Hockey player and Lacrosse player.
With the formation of the National Hockey Association (NHA) in December 1909, (replaced 7 years later by the NHL), team/league owner Ambrose O'Brien asked Laviolette to put together a team made up of French Canadian players to play as the "Les Canadiens" franchise in Montreal. Laviolette completed the task in time for the NHA's inaugural season. Among those that would sign on to that first team would be future hall of famers Newsy Lalonde, Didier Pitre and the "Chicoutimi Cucumber," Georges Vezina. The team he built would go on to be the most successful franchise in professional Hockey.
Laviolette played nine seasons for the Les Canadiens / Club de Hockey le Canadien and was their first captain, coach, and general manager.
Laviolette's family moved to Valleyfield, Quebec where he took up the sports of Hockey and Lacrosse at an early age. He began his organized Hockey career in the Montreal City League and moved to the Montreal Le National of the Federal Amateur Hockey League in 1904, finishing sixth in league scoring with eight goals in six games. Le National was famous for being one of the first men's teams composed of francophones.
Laviolette moved to the Michigan Soo Indians of the International Hockey League the following season where he scored 40 goals over three seasons and was named to the IHL First All-Star Team in 1905 and 1907 along with a being made a Second Team selection in 1906.
Laviolette returned to Montreal in the fall of 1907 to play for the Montreal Shamrocks of the Eastern Canadian Amateur Hockey Association for two seasons.
Laviolette would then star for the new Canadiens franchise from 1910 until 1918 scoring 45 goals in 147 games, winning the Stanley Cup in 1916.
While tuning a car for a planned tour of Quebec in the spring of 1918, Laviolette crashed and lost his right foot in the mishap. His playing days were over. A benefit game for Jack was arranged at the Mount Royal Arena during the winter of 1921. Not only was he the guest of honour but he also refereed the game.
Laviolette was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame as a lacrosse player in 1960.
Jack Laviolette was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.
The 1909–1910 Montreal Canadiens season was the team's inaugural season and also the first season of the National Hockey Association (NHA). The 1910 Montreal Canadiens operated as 'Les Canadiens' and were owned by Ambrose O'Brien of Renfrew, Ontario as one of four franchises he owned in the NHA. After the season, the franchise was suspended and a NHA franchise was sold to George Kennedy (Georges Kendall). All of the players of 'Les Canadiens' went to Kennedy's organization.
After the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA) turned down Ambrose O'Brien's Renfrew Creamery Kings application for membership on November 25, 1909, O'Brien, along with Jimmy Gardner of the (also rejected) Montreal Wanderers organized the new National Hockey Association. The Wanderers desired a competitor team based in Montreal and Gardner suggested a team of francophone players to O'Brien to play on the rivalry between francophones and anglophones in Montreal. Gardner suggested that it be named 'Les Canadiens.
The new team was founded at the new NHA's meeting on December 4, 1909. O'Brien put up $5000 security for the new franchise on the "condition that it would be transferred to Montreal French sportsmen as soon as practicable." Jack Laviolette was hired to organize the new team, its official name Le Club de Hockey Le Canadien.
Laviolette was given free rein by the NHA owners to sign all francophone players. The others would not sign any until the Canadien team was set. His first signing was his old friend Didier "Cannonball" Pitre. Pitre was working in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario when he received a telegram from Laviolette outlining the team and to come to Montreal. At the train in North Bay, Ontario Pitre was met by an official of the CHA's Montreal Le National, who signed him on the spot for $1100, however Pitre had thought he was signing a contract with Laviolette. When Pitre arrived in Ottawa, Laviolette was there to meet him. Laviolette explained that it was the other French-Canadien team that Laviolette was managing. Pitre signed with Laviolette for a guaranteed $1700. Before the first game, legal action was initiated by the Nationals and an injunction was only lifted on the day of the first Canadien game. Laviolette's other signings went much easier. Newsy Lalonde signed on December 14 and he reported the next day to complete the roster.
When the CHA folded in January 1910, the franchise was offered by O'Brien to Le National but they declined to purchase the franchise. The Nationals turned down the offer, not willing to take on the contract to play in the Jubilee Rink, the cost of the player contracts of $6200 and debts of $1400. Le National, an established organization of some 14 years, instead folded their team.
The team had a record of 2–10–0 to finish last in the league. The team's first game was a win against Cobalt at home 7–6 in overtime, on January 5, 1910. The result was nullified when the NHA absorbed the CHA teams and created a new schedule. Cobalt later defeated Les Canadiens at Montreal 6–4. The team's first official win took place on February 7, 1910 against the Haileybury Hockey Club. The team did not win a game away from its home rink.
The Canadiens would finish out the schedule in last place with a record of 2-10, scoring 59 goals and allowing an even 100. The following season, only Lalonde, Pitre, Laviolette, Bernier and Poulin would return.